Where is ND labor force growing?

Time to bore the readers with numbers. I was on Al-Jazeera in America last week talking with Ali Velshi regarding North Dakota’s energy sector. I have to admit that a live television interview was really exciting. Let’s get on with the numbers though.

I discussed before the phenomenal growth rates I estimated for labor force growth in western North Dakota. Over the last five the monthly growth in labor force in Williston has been 1.54% per month. No other metropolitan or micropolitan area in the state even approaches half that level. The closest is actually Dickinson at .71% per month over the same time period.

If we shorten the time period to a one year horizon Dickinson actually takes the lead with monthly growth rate of .68% while Williston saw labor force growth of .60% per month. The metropolitan areas of Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks do not come close to these rates. Labor force growth in North Dakota, in recent years, was driven almost exclusively by the west. Want more numbers?

Over the last year Williston and Dickinson account for 47% of the growth in North Dakota labor force. Push the horizon out to three years and those same two cities account for 83.8% of North Dakota’s labor force growth. Williston alone was more than 60% of the growth. At a five year horizon the two cities were at 86.1% of the growth in labor force.

These types of changes have significant implications for almost every aspect of North Dakota economic life. Let’s start with the share of growth. Being responsible for such a large share of growth naturally increases demands for the gains from that growth, such as infrastructure spending. This potentially changes the political pecking order in the state.

What remains a major issue for the state is the phenomenal rate of growth in labor force. The influx of new workers and the reallocation of workers within the state is creating the wage/price adjustments between industries, jobs, and regions of the state. These adjustments are very clearly originating with the boom in oil activity, but are spilling over beyond that immediate region. It contributes to economic issues in these other communities, and is generating some resentment. Many in these communities feel they are only seeing the negative sides of the boom adjustment, and are not enjoying the positive effects of the boom.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this and will have some other demographic data and projections to share soon.

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